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Gemini Ganesan
Gemini Ganesan the septuagenarian actor was way ahead of his times and ushered in an era of subtle emotions on screen during his heydays between 1950 and 1970. Gemini fondly known as Kathal Mannan, king of romance, a title coined by Pesumpadam the Tamil magazine, was seen in ‘Mettukudi’, ‘Avvai Shanmughi’ and 'Thodarum’ in the late 90’s.

He started life as a lecturer in MCC at Tambaram and an introduction to Ramnath the cameraman of Gemini studios got him the job as production executive. He joined Gemini on August 15 1947. He made his appearance in ‘Miss Malini’ and later on in ‘Chakradari’, ‘Moonru Pillaigal’, ‘Nava Jeevanam’, ‘Avvayar'. But he was still not a hero and though the tag Gemini stuck to him he was unhappy and joined Narayanan and Company, where he was slated to be the hero in ‘Thai Ullam’ but lost out to Manohar. He then got the dual role in ‘Manampol Mangalyam’. It was AVM that gave Gemini the hero role and in the year nineteen fifty three the films ‘Devadas’, ‘Manampol Mangalyam’ were released and AVM's ‘Penn’ and ‘Kanavane Kan Kanda Deivam’ gave him star status. By then Ganesan was thirty years old.

He has acted in over two hundred films in all the southern languages including Hindi. His memorable films are ‘Vanjikottai Valiban’, ‘Missiamma’, ‘Meenda Sorgam’, ‘Panama Paasama’, ‘Kalayana Parisu’, ‘Pennin Perumai’, ‘Pasamalar’, ‘Bandha Paasam’, ‘Konjam Solungal’, ‘Sumai Thangi’, ‘Karpagam’ and with K Balchander he did ‘Kaviyathalaivi’, ‘Iru Kodugal’, ‘Poova Thalaiya’, ‘Punnagai’ and in ‘Nann Avanillai’ he played nine roles which were all negative in nature.

He won the Padmashree in 1971 and other prestigious awards are Kalaimamani, MGR Gold Medal, Screen Life Time Achievement awards, but Ganesan is one actor who has till date not used any of the titles conferred on him in publicity posters. Married at the age of nineteen and a father at the age of 22, Ganesan has since married four times. Top heroine of Hindi films Rekha is his daughter born to actress Pushpavalli. His first wife Bapuji continues to live with him in his house in Nungambakkam and it was she who took the initiative in getting her hubby married to the thirty year old lady whom he met in Bangalore and fell for. But he however continues to maintain contact with his first wife who has stood by him through all romantic liaisons off screen.

The King of Romance, Ganesan is probably one of the few actors in Tamil filmdom who avoided politics like plague when the other two of that time - MGR and Sivaji were in politics. He was offered a Rajya Sabha seat by Rajiv Gandhi but he declined to accept it. On the personal level he was friendly with many of the top personalities but then he did not like to flatter them on stage and kept away from public functions.

Even though he was a romantic at heart and had many women in his life he is a shrewd businessman and invested his earnings in real estate. Today his real estate holdings in Chennai, Ooty and Kodaikanal (his favourite retreat) are worth millions. In film circles he was known to his colleagues as Sambhar for his portrayal of soft roles and not doing action roles and speaking dialogues in a soft voice which MGR and Sivaji then found very amusing and nicknamed him Sambhar. Now at seventy nine Ganesan still continues to love life with all the zest that he had in his teens. True to his image Gemini has lived a secluded and personal life, keeping away from controversies, except for his marriages, which of course is his personal matter. Let us be concerned of the star who has performed his role very well.
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